by J.P. Kallio
It’s a new week and I have part 7 of of my musician quick tips. In my nearly two decades as a full time musician I have learned a thing or two about this business. I also have become very fast at assessing what works and what does not when it comes to promoting, recording and performing your music.
These quick tips are simple actions that you can put to use straight away.
I am a master at having a fifteen great ideas a minute, and before I get to any of them, I am distracted and doing something else. Something tells me I am not alone in this. These days a lot of the music promotion happens online, which is a real mine field of distraction. If you manage log on to your computer to do one task and not get distracted by checking Emails, or your Facebook feed, you are doing well.
So to battle these distractions there is a trusty old tool, that I need to remind my self about once in a while. All you need is pen and paper, and make a list. Every day make a list of what needs to be done. This is such a simple thing, but will boost your productivity far beyond anything you could imagine.
Get into habit of writing down what you need to do, and once it is done, tick it away from your list. And Try to stay away from those distractions. In fact allocate some time for the Emails, social media and those time killing cat videos. And when it comes to getting the work done, you will be more focused.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Is there something that you have meant to do for years? I give you an example: My first attempt at recording a solo album goes back to 2003. I actually recorded kind of first draft of the album in one afternoon. The idea was to just record ten songs with acoustic guitar and my voice, nothing more. But “things” got on the way and I never finished the album. Over the following eleven years I started and stopped few times. It wasn’t until late 2013 I finally got around to writing, recording and actually finishing my first solo album. That album, “Northern Boy” came out in March 2014. It also started a chain of events, like a ripple effect, that still keeps kicking me in the ass every morning.
You’d be attempted to say that the “time was right”. But the fact was, I finally got the courage to step out of my comfort zone. I was brave enough to expose feelings in songs I was scared before. You see, if you do everything in your comfort zone, you never push your self, you never expose that wounded soul. Why would you want to do that, you might ask. And let me answer by saying this: When I started to expose my self, share my deeper inner feelings, fears, failures, but also joys and success, or sometimes even the mundane every day things, that is when people started to feel connection with me and my music.
By stepping out of your comfort zone as an artist is when you start to grow. What could you do today to make that leap?
In the world of promotion it is sometimes easy to forget about the most important aspect of it all, the music. Let’s face it promoting music is a full-time job. I went through this few years back while booking a Sliotar tour. I realised I had not picked up my guitar for a five days. All I had done was stared at the computer screen and send hundreds of Emails.
In the middle of it all, I had forgotten about the most important thing, the reason why I choose to be a musician in the first place. So from that day on I set aside time everyday to write music. To pick up my guitar, which now days is beside me all the time I work, and just work on songs.
I had an interesting conversation with a fellow musician about how life does sometimes takeover. I realised that even us musicians sometimes put music as the thing that can wait. If we treat the music like that, how can we expect our audience to value it more?
Yes you need to work hard, but one hour, or even 30 mins a day can make a big difference. Just turn that computer off for a little while and remind your self why you want to be a musician in the first place
Be true to your self
Here’s a lesson I learned the hard way, the long way and I am still learning it every day. Be true to your self. Sounds simple, but it is extremely complicated! I have been told in the past that I am not a singer, I have been told that my guitar playing is not up to scratch (OK, it was long time ago…) I have been told “You will never make it”. All of the above can be hurtful. It can also be extremely motivating.
In a many ways the path of a musician is all about proving others wrong. And by trying to do that damn hard, you actually learn along the way as well. You do get better. Remember people will judge you based on what you are today, and based on what ever their reference is. In most case this is something they listen to them selves. They think you will never make it unless you sound like so and so…
It is OK to copy someone else in the beginning of your career, but it is your individuality that makes you special. It is that voice of yours that will make you sound unique. Yes you still need to learn to use your voice to the best of your abilities. But if you sound like a copy of someone else, you are good for one thing, and that is a tribute act. Be true to your self!
I don’t think it is any secret that I prefer Twitter over Facebook as my preferred social media. Although Facebook has come up with few cool updates lately, twitter is still the king for organic reach. Yesterday Twitter introduced something pretty cool. You can now post videos from your mobile phone directly to twitter, without having to use any other platform. These videos are max 30 sec at the moment, but with some clever thinking you can do a lot to promote your music in 30 secs.
So if you have iPhone or an android phone, update your twitter app. And when you go to post a photograph, you can choose the camera and it will have option to swap over to a video. You can also choose a snippet of an existing video from your video library on the phone. I’ve already used it to share some fun rehearsal room stuff on my twitter.
I think this is a great update and I will be putting it to use in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes out for some short vlogs.